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Starting the conversation:
Be OK making mistakes. Decision-making inherently has a risk element, and knowing how you make decisions with imperfect information is a reminder that you are human — and also helps with better understanding of the cascading results of making a choice. Maria Morukian, President at MSM Global Consulting, LLC and Stephanie Judd, Founder and Managing Partner of Wolf & Heron, discuss approaching decisions that you know are going to be made with missing information.
Whether it’s time-sensitive, a risk of looming stagnation, or that more information is necessary — consider what you know: the decision will create something. Hopefully forward movement. Use decision-making to move forward, not to plan into the far-distant future (that’s what your business strategy is for). Change that comes from making decisions is something that still has a stigma, so the more your company normalizes “change,” the more you can use decisions to iterate forward.
In this program, you will hear about how you get in your own way; how to notice reality to reset and refocus; and that it is OK to make mistakes. The conversation calls out that life and work are messy and more gets done when embracing that fact. The conversation clearly highlights that making decisions has risk and that it is courageous to understand your own risk tolerance. Jess Dewell hosts Maria Morukian, President at MSM Global Consulting, LLC and Stephanie Judd, Founder and Managing Partner of Wolf & Heron, to discuss why it is BOLD to make decisions knowing you never have all the information.
Host: Jess Dewell
Guest: Maria Morukian and Stephanie Judd
What You Will Hear:
Mindset shift from a recovering perfectionist: avoid analysis paralysis by iterating forward.
Decisions get you from where you are to the next step.
What you can do to normalize talking about “change.”
How to get out of your own way and move toward your biggest goals.
Each decision changes the next set of options, and that is useful.
You won’t be right … very often, and that’s ok!
It does take guts to make decisions knowing that there is missing information!
Humility, in part, is being OK with making mistakes.
Additionally, for the Fast Track Your Business Today Uncut conversation:
Look in the mirror — assess your willingness to engage in trial and error.
Sometimes businesses can be the holdout and avoid hard conversations. Make sure you have those hard conversations.
Let go of being right.
Notice! What requires a reset and refocus?
It is BOLD to make decisions knowing you don’t have all the information.
- Elevate Your Executive Presence with Intentional Storytelling
- Expansion: The Missing Link To Sustainable Diversity And Inclusion
Stephanie Judd 00:00
There’s not a single decision that we make in this world that is made with perfect information. So in some respects, I was thinking to myself, Oh, I guess every decision is an imperfect information decision.
Maria Morukian 00:10
If I find myself consistently struggling or feeling frustrated with the same types of things over and over again, that’s probably an indicator that I have some personal, some personal soul-searching to do.
Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel. The one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place. Your unique True North. Now, here’s Jess.
Jess Dewell 01:15
Welcome to the Bold Business Podcast where you hear information that will help you with the biggest problems you are navigating today. And maybe they’re not big problems. Maybe they’re How do I approach my future? What does the world giving me today impact what my world will be three years and five years from now? What are the conversations I should be having today and bringing into being normal within my organization so that we are set up to take advantage of other opportunities along the way that we can’t even imagine? That’s what the Bold Business Podcast is all about. So welcome, and I am your host, Jess Dewell, and you can listen on whichever platform that you like best. Because all the links are right here in the show notes and on the red direction.com. website. Okay, so Bold Business Podcast stuff aside, we get to talk about decision-making. Today, we get to talk about imperfect information today, we get to talk about the fact that they are tied together more than we like to give it credit for sometimes I don’t know about you, but I’ll just speak for myself. I avoid that fact. And I just pretend that I don’t know how much I don’t know, so I can feel competent to my decision-making. But you know what that means? That just means I’m extra surprised when problems and turns and backtracks occur. And let’s just throw up not only surprised a little frustrated in the process, so you may be able to relate and the thing is, so how we can show up to this, what we can do, the way we can be proactive is what we’re talking about today. Me, I can keep working on this for myself, you if you are so inclined can work on it for yourself, or maybe just see how decision-making an imperfect information are aligned in a new light. So with that, I would love to introduce you to our panelists today. These are some of my favorite conversations. Because we build off of each other, we challenge each other. We get to ask each other questions. And more important than any of that. It’s more than my voice because I know you’ll listen to me all day long. And here’s the thing, these two women that are here today, Maria and Stephanie, they are bringing it and they both have specializations that I can’t not share with you, especially when it comes to this conversation because you know, I’m excited about it. You listen to this podcast enough. You know, we talk about decision-making a lot. So I have been waiting and waiting for this panel to get here today to be able to share with you. First, let me introduce you to Maria Maruchan. She specializes in diversity, equity inclusion and intercultural competence. She has worked with hundreds of clients developing sustainable and transformational change, bringing effort toward focusing the conversation and that impact and the result to be thriving organizational community, not only for organizations that work with people, but also organizations that work with nonpeople, which is a cool thing too. Maria has a master’s degree in international communication and she serves as a d i consultant, nationally and internationally. She is a TEDx speaker and a published author. She also continues the important to dei conversations on her podcast in her speaking and in her book. I am so glad to have you here today. How are you doing Maria?
Maria Morukian 04:42
I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me on Jess.
Jess Dewell 04:47
Good. I am glad you are here. All right. And second, we have Stephanie Judd. She is the founder of Wolf and Heron. She specializes in the practical skills that leaders need to engage and inspire others her point of view on influential storytelling specifically, has earned her international recognition. In addition to three degrees, including an MBA, she’s a certified co-active coach. She is part of the coaches training institute and a former member of the Forbes coaching Council, just like me, she likes chocolate. And unlike me, because I do have a very low limit, she eats more chocolate than I do, which is pretty awesome. And she has two young kids, which sometimes may mean that the chocolate is more necessary. Welcome to the program. How are you doing Stephanie?
Stephanie Judd 05:32
I’m great. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Jess Dewell 05:36
Good. I am glad for it. So now that you know these two women, you’ve heard their voices, we are going to get right to it. And getting right to it is something that I know you can’t wait for. And remember, because we’re listening to the Bold Business Podcast, we’re talking about things that need to be normalized, we’re talking about things that might not get enough attention. We’re talking about things that are part of our lives that we might overlook because they feel small. But really, when we take care of those small things, the big things change and improve and become more enlightened so that we can make more conscious choice. So I’m excited about that today. We’re gonna jump right in. I want to know Maria, what is your approach to making a decision that you know is being made with imperfect information?
Maria Morukian 06:22
I love this question because it initially gives me some heart palpitations. Being a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I am always compelled to try to have the most complete data possible, the most perfect data possible. And I also recognize that is impossible. And in particular, in the work that I do with the organizations that I am partnering, it is all about imperfect information, because we are swimming in ambiguity. When we talk about organizational culture transformation, systemic and institutional change, especially to counteract sometimes generations of inequity inequities and marginalization and societal oppression, there is going to be a lot of ambiguity. These are really what we call adaptive challenges, right? They’re not something that we have a one-and-done fix for. And although a large part of the work that I do with my clients always starts with some sort of organizational assessment, data gathering, trying to understand the perspectives and the lived experiences of people who are a part of that organization, we recognize that there is always going to be imperfect information. I think that for us, it’s about constantly encouraging and challenging the leaders that we work with, to also and to get caught in analysis paralysis, recognizing that sometimes this is going to be iterative, we’re going to do the best that we can to make some strategic decisions based on what information is available to us in the moment, and know and expect that we’re going to have to course correct as we move forward.
Jess Dewell 08:17
Thank you for sharing that. All right, Stephanie, what is your approach to making a decision that, you know, is being made with imperfect information?
Stephanie Judd 08:27
Yeah, I liked this question a lot, pondering it. I sat for a while and came to the same conclusion, Maria, that you did, that there’s not a single decision that we make in this world that is made with perfect information. So in some respects, that I was thinking to myself, Oh, I guess every decision is an imperfect information decision. But I think fundamentally, what scares us about making decisions without imperfect information is that we’re inherently aware of the fact that these decisions come with some amount of risk. That got me thinking about my relationship to risk and my relationship to how do I handle scary moments, scary threshold moments, if you will. And I came up with three strategies that I lean into. The first is actually about information gathered that gathering itself, we often let me speak from my perspective, I often find the tough questions, the vulnerable questions, hard to ask. And so part of what I’m working on in my own practice is developing the skill developing the tolerance, developing the, the interest in curiosity to ask the hard questions, because very often, if I’m completing the story in my head, if I’m making assumptions, then this the information I’m using is inherently crap. So I want to make sure that I’m gut-checking my assumptions and really going into the situation having asked all the right questions in the first place, then it’s about tolerating risk. And the way that I think about tolerating risk is really flipping it on its head and, and thinking instead about cultivating resilience. So risk is only scary because we might fall. And so instead, if I build the muscle to get up from that fall, then I will trust that no matter how many times I fall, I can get up again. And then I’m not a lot less afraid of risk in the first place. And so that has been, the muscle that I’m working on developing is just the resilience muscle, practicing it exercising it falling so that I can then rise again. And then I think the third piece is to acknowledge to myself and Maria, you said the same thing is like, acknowledge to myself that these decisions just get me to another place. And this new place has a new view and new information. And from there, I can make another decision, these decisions, no decision is permanent. And because our context changes, our own desires, and will values change our own, like everything about everything changes, and so therefore, the decision will change too. And just acknowledging that upfront makes it so much easier to say, You know what this is for now? And then I’ll change my mind later. And that’s okay.
Jess Dewell 11:06
Thank you both for answering those questions. I now have a gazillion other questions. But I know that we’re going to let the right things show up in this moment. So as we’re taking these individual points of view, so each of our listeners knows, here’s how each of you are thinking about this as we go, we’re going to just open this up and have a dialogue. There may be questions from me, there may be questions from you. And there’s definitely going to be back and forth between all of us. So just keeping that in mind going forward. I like the free form of that versus the very static piece. And our listeners will attest to that. They like to listen to all of us having an actual conversation as well. One of the things that came up that both of you were talking about was the fact that change is unavoidable. And we can talk about change in the grand schemes, right? Like Maria, where you are working internationally, we can talk about change on on that level, I believe also, I’m going to correct me if I’m wrong. Maria, you were also talking about generationally, as well. And then Stephanie, when you were talking about how are we actually showing up to that as individuals as people as communities? And what does that mean? So coming back to what I said originally was so changes unavoidable? Are we still in a place where we’re reframing that into making it a normal conversation?
Maria Morukian 12:27
I think yes. Because change is unavoidable change has always been a part of our existence. And I think we have this misnomer that one, some people are better at adapting to change than others. That’s not necessarily correct, right? It depends on the context on the situation and on the change itself. And where people are individually, collectively, in terms of their own psychological and emotional connection to the status quo. it for me and for my team, a lot of the work that we’ve been leaning into in our dei exploration and our systemic change strategy work that we’re doing with leaders is to talk about what makes us immune to change. And this is work that comes out of Keegan and Leahy’s Immunity to Change were out of Harvard Business School. But essentially, it’s a very deceptively simple idea that we have these explicit, conscious goals that we’ve set for ourselves or for our organizations or for our society. This is what we say and agree we want what is getting in the way of us actually making progress toward that stated commitment. are we engaging in behaviors that are continue to progress toward that commitment? Or are we engaging in behaviors, or maybe not engaging in behaviors that we should be that’s actually impeding progress? And oftentimes, what we find is when we pull back the onion and look at some of those behaviors, there are some hidden, competing commitments that we’re often not even aware of that are driving our reinforcement of the status quo. And many of us even say, we don’t want anymore. So I think it’s able to take a step back and look objectively at how we individually, intentionally or unintentionally, collectively, institutionally are sometimes holding up and perpetuating the exact things that we say we don’t want anymore. Because we are accustomed to them. We’re comfortable with them. They hold a sense of certainty. Or going back to that question of imperfect decision-making. The future is so ambiguous that we can’t vision what envision and so we keep reinventing the same situation, but maybe just slightly different. And we keep getting the same result. So I think, for me, all of us as individuals, as leaders, from wherever we sit in our organizations in our communities, when it comes to actually adapting to changes, it requires us to have some really humble Well in reflective conversation selves in one another, but how we’re getting in our own way.
Stephanie Judd 15:05
Yeah, I would see on your point there about getting in our own way. I read a book recently, Kelly McGonigal wrote the book, The Willpower Instinct. She talks a lot about the muscle of willpower and our ability to stay focused on the goal and think long term and do the hard thing now because later it’s gonna pay off. And she uses examples, like dieting and working out. But I think about for my own self, for my business, we have articles that we have to write, and I don’t super love to write articles. And it’s always a willpower challenge for me to sit down and write. And yet at the same time, there’s never a conversation where I say, I don’t think it’s good idea for us to write, I never think that I’m like we should write, it’s a good idea I just want to do today. And so the, it’s so clear that I’m getting in my own way, in this tiny little micro-moment in my business. And I noticed it in all kinds of little moments. Yes, that is part of why change can be so hard because that requires often that we take on a new habit, a new behavior that we just don’t want to do today. We’ll do it tomorrow.
You’re listening to the Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. But first, I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights, tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders, unedited and uncut. And we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You will also have unlimited access to one, hearing tips and insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often. Two, experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders. Three, receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. Altogether, The Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere. You can access what will become your most versatile tool in your toolkit by going to FastTrackYou BusinessToday.com. Now back to Jess.
Jess Dewell 17:15
What do you think about this harder is? What if I’m not right? I think that’s what we need to normalize. Of course, I’m not going to be right. What do you think?
Stephanie Judd 17:25
Yeah, sort of goes back to my point about the resilience and the risk tolerance as Yeah, you might not be right. In fact, most probably you’re gonna be wrong, right? Because yeah, things around you are gonna change and the decision that would have been smart a year ago isn’t smart anymore. Yes, let this be right until it isn’t. And then when it isn’t, I’ll change my mind. And if you have that framing, or if I have that framing, I can move forward a lot more easily because it’s not a permanent thing. It’s not forever Keven my decision to move to Atlanta. I left Colorado, personally, the best place in the world for me, I love Colorado, but we moved to Atlanta because it made sense for now. And if it doesn’t make sense in the future, I’ll move somewhere else and that will be okay. We’re in Colorado, the mountains way up in the mountains. Really?
Jess Dewell 18:13
No way. We left the Pacific Northwest to go to Colorado actually. And it was a beautiful place. We did it for six years. And we came back to the Pacific Northwest. Unlike YouTube, who have the same stomping ground of where you went to college. It sounded like when we were in the green room. I grew up in Kansas and so Midwest in a different way and different timezone. That’s actually really cool. Have you ever lived someplace else? Maria, besides where you are now and Michigan?
Maria Morukian 18:41
Yes. So I grew up in, in the Detroit area, and spent some time I lived in Chicago for a while and then also lived internationally. So I spent some time in Spain in particular, and airy, brief jaunt in a few places in South America, before I landed in DC, and there’s something about Washington DC, I always thought I was gonna come here for a few years, get my fix of Washington and then go elsewhere. And that was 20 years ago. So I definitely get the travel bug on a regular. But in terms of having a space that I call my home, that this has really become my community.
Jess Dewell 19:26
How do you think this plays into our decision making our ability to have community?
Maria Morukian 19:30
I think tapping on to what Stephanie was mentioning earlier about resilience and risk-taking. And I think for many of the folks that I work with, especially in the wake of 2020, and you had this perfect storm of the global pandemic, you had the very public police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, and also an intense politicization of all A lot of these conversations around racial equity and gender equity. So all of that just compiled together. And what I saw and continue to see to some was a deep-seated fear on the part of leaders of quote, unquote, getting it wrong, and not necessarily about being wrong. But saying or doing something that is perceived as wrong by others and being judged for it. And so I think, for me, that that idea of building community is so important because from community is, we are a collective of people with unique characteristics who see ourselves as interdependent, I have to rely on you to not only support me, but to open my eyes, when unintentionally I might do or say something that causes harm. And so, for us, I think a lot of the work has been helping people to unlearn that idea that if we put ourselves out there, and we say something that doesn’t land well with others, game over, because I think, in silence, when people hold back and don’t speak up, that’s where we see even more hurts being, even more hurts being conducted and often more ripple effects in terms of others, then also staying silent.
Stephanie Judd 21:24
When I was maybe two years into my business, I had to deliver my workshop on storytelling for the very first time by myself, up until then, my business partner, Kara, and I had done it together, always co-leading. And this was my first time doing it alone. It’s a storytelling workshop. So of course, it opens with a story. And I don’t know what happened. But that story just did not land, it did not land. And so I’m six minutes into my workshop, and I have alienated everybody in the room. It was bad. It wasn’t really bad. It was pure failure from beginning to end when it was over. And I got the feedback back. And the feedback was, as I expected it to be Yeah, you got blocked. And I was like, Oh, I then went back to my partner, Kara, with this feedback, and collapse in her lap and said, Oh, right, I’m so grateful that I have a business partner, to whom I can go and fail in front of and she will just hold me and build me back up. That is something that we do for each other as business partners and CO owners and founders of the business. And it’s so important to our resilience building. I think you mentioned that you fail, you have to go back to a community that’s going to hold you a community that’s going to accept you for the failures that you have Brene Brown talks about this is like the number one step of Rising Strong, confess your sins to someone that is going to accept you for them anyway. So yes, I think community is so important, and cultivating that community and finding the people that you can have around you that you know, you can trust to fail in front of, and then get sort of strength to rise again, that’s so important in being able to move forward and make decisions and keep going.
Jess Dewell 23:12
You’re incredibly lucky Stephanie to have such an amazing business partner. I’m quite intrigued and enamored by this idea. And at the same point in time, though, to be able to go, okay, the people I thought were close to me aren’t, or I don’t have somebody, maybe I’m new in a community. Maybe I’m showing up in a brand new place. And I can’t imagine Maria, what you did in some of the if you had that were able to find it internationally in the places that you have lived or visited or worked for periods of time.
Maria Morukian 23:40
Even just thinking about the necessity of looking stupid, of making mistakes. Cultural etiquette faux pas messing up the language living and working in globally diverse settings requires us to a sense of humility, and a willingness to engage in trial and error. And one of the things that I have found so profoundly valuable in living and working overseas, as well as coaching folks who are working and leading in those spaces, is to find a culture guide, right? Find a culture coach, somebody who’s willing to invite you into that community and to help you navigate the inevitable challenges and mistakes that you’re going to make and give you that feedback in a loving and gracious way. But also, I think this speaks to whether we are doing this when we’re engaging in international setting or even just within the United States. All of us have this innate human desire to gravitate for people who are like us are uncomfortable, the situation and the environment around us. We tend to seek out what’s familiar and who feels familiar and who feels safe. And so I’ve seen that be a significant challenge. For all of us, regardless of where we live, and who we’re engaging with, not only from an intercultural perspective but an ideological perspective, we are entrenched. And we increase, seek out people and beliefs and behaviors and ideas that reinforce what feels comfortable and familiar to us. And for me, that’s just that is, we can never make progress, right, we can never expand our own views and challenge our own assumptions and build a stronger community. If we’re only sticking with our own little echo chambers, whether that is being an expat and from the US and only hanging out at the Irish pub, or at the American spaces, or whether it is only paying attention to news that reinforces what I already believed, only hanging out with and talking with people who believe and behave the same way I do. So I think that’s a, it’s a win for us. But I also have seen such immense growth. When people do engage in those conversations, I think we are often, again, just from a social identity perspective, we often over-emphasize the perceived differences between us and others. And when we just sit down and have a conversation and share stories to Stephanie’s point, we humanize each other, we learned that we often have more common ground than we anticipated. And we build these beautiful, thoughtful, loving relationships and communities where we never thought they could exist. And so it just gives me goosebumps even saying it and thinking about those moments that I’ve experienced with people, because it is absolutely possible. And it’s so powerful and so important for us. And I think we just need to collectively get better at doing it.
Stephanie Judd 26:53
I like to think of that as the skill of being comfortable with discomfort and is I think I must have been in my 20s my early 20s When I came to this conclusion for myself that if I was going to live a bold life, to use your word just I had to do things that were uncomfortable. And so yeah, it’s by being uncomfortable that you’re, you’re at the edge of your comfort zone. That’s where life begins. Your comment about sitting down and sharing stories and finding something we are a lot more in common than we are different. My own international experiences, I find I was competitive, assaulted so much of my 20s and 30s. I went to countries all over the world, and lived in Rwanda, and found my community salsa dancing in Rwanda. And it was just such a crazy thing for me that like in some ways, it was almost a it’s the conversation of dance as opposed to a different conversation. But it was the same idea of just finding Salsa. Salsa is not a Rwandan culture thing. And what and there I was in the middle of Africa, surrounded by a bunch of people that I didn’t we didn’t speak the same language, but we could dance.
Jess Dewell 28:02
You are listening to the Bold Business Podcast. Now you know why I wanted to have Maria Morukian and Stephanie Judd join me today. Don’t forget unjust duel and you can get this podcast and many others by visiting red direction.com and choosing the platform of your choice to subscribe to the Bold Business Podcast.
Thank you for joining us on the Bold Business Podcast. Your journey towards greater success continues with our Fast Track Your Business membership. By subscribing, you unlock the rest of this enlightening interview, and gain access to a wealth of resources. These include invaluable tips, insights, and experiences shared by leading business figures, all curated to foster your entrepreneurial spirit and professional growth. So, DON’T DELAY. Visit fast track your business today dot com, and take your business journey to the next level. Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for production assistance.